Critical Context

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Burroughs never visited Africa. Born in Chicago, he drifted through life as a U.S. cavalryman, Oregon gold miner, Idaho cowboy, Utah railway policeman, and small businessman. Inspired by writers such as H. Rider Haggard, he took up writing and sold the first “John Carter of Mars” serial to a magazine in 1911. He then conceived and sold another series about an Englishman reared by apes. These two series gave Burroughs a comfortable living for the rest of his life.

Burroughs sold his Tarzan of the Apes serial to a magazine in 1912, and two years later he sold it to a book publisher. He continued writing Tarzan stories, among others, until 1941. He was the first American writer to become a corporation; his San Fernando Valley ranch, Tarzana, became a town. More than twenty-five million Tarzan books have been sold in at least fifty-six languages.